Monday, July 15, 2019

The ASEAN countries must abolish the death penalty

DILI – Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos Horta is arguing ASEAN countries to remove the use of the death penalty from their legal system.

Horta believes the severe punishment violates human rights and should be abolished around the world.

“At least every country that upholds the death penalty should declare a moratorium (temporary ban) for 10 to 20 years on its application,” he said.

According to Horta, a moratorium would allow nations to step back and evaluate their use of the death penalty, before ultimately deciding whether or not to abolish it.

Currently, five ASEAN countries continue to use the death penalty: Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.
In Indonesia, the death penalty applies to cases of premeditated murder, terrorism and drug trafficking.

On May 29, married couple from East Timor were arrested in East Nusa Tenggara for carrying thousands of ecstasy pills.

According to Horta, East Timor’s strong stance against the death penalty is one of its greatest qualities. He added that if any Timorese political leader looked to introduce capital punishment, they would be met with strong opposition across the country.

“We have a very deep strong culture against the death penalty and we will not change that in order to join ASEAN,” he said.

Horta also pointed out that no ASEAN countries should defend their use of the death penalty by pointing to nations like the United States, because the US only uses the punishment in cases of murder, not for drug offences. As well as this, 20 states in the US have abolished their use of the death penalty.

Horta’s calls against the use of the death penalty echo sentiment around the world, were 160 countries have either abolished capital punishment, implemented a moratorium, or never adopted the practice.

Speaking at a 2014 event calling for all countries to implement a moratorium on the death penalty, former Secretary – General of the United Nations, Ban Ki – Moon, described the death penalty as having “no place in the 21st Century”.

As a result of its denial of the right to life (Article 2 of the Human Right Act), the death penalty has been described by Amnesty International as: “the ultimate, irreversible denial of human rights.”

Recent reform to legislation regarding the death penalty in Southeast Asia have also generally been in line with this international trend, with reforms against capital punishment showing a gradual but real development.

Despite international movement against capital punishment, half of the association continues to use the death penalty.

Brunei, Myanmar, and Laos have abolished it in practice, with no executions in the past 10 years, while the Philippines and Cambodia have banned it completely.

A version of this article appears in Tempo Timor Online on July 14, 2019 with the headline: Horta: ‘ASEAN countries must abolish the death penalty’.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Rivalries between Xanana and Alkatiri still ongoing

By Raimundos Oki

DILI – Political differences and rivalries between the CNRT party and the FREILIN party are still ongoing, the proof is the former war commander and liberation hero of Timor-Leste has not participated in the inauguration of the Rota do Sandalo international airport in Ousi - Kusi Ambeno last week.

In his speech, the President of the Oé-Cusse Ambeno Special Administrative Region Authority (RAEOA – ZEESM – TL), Mari Alkatiri stated that he felt very sad about Xanana Gusmão's absence at the event.

“Therefore if today my heart is rather sad because my brother Xanana Gusmão is not here. I believe that even though he is not in Oe-Kusi now, I believe that even though he is in Dili or elsewhere, he will accompany or watch this direct transmission,” he said.  

Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos Horta considered the absence Xanana in Oe – Kusi Ambeno because there is political difference among them.    

“He was dissappointed. I think maun boot Xanana he is the real founder of this country. There are two people in our history that the biggest. One is Nicolau Lobato and the other is Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão,” Horta said.  

Without Xanana Gusmão maybe we wouldn’t be free today. We all fought. FALINTIL, clandestine network, international solidarity, and us abroad in diplomacy, but you need a very wise leader that when he sees an opportunity he takes it. That’s mean that you have the courage to do it. Like the referendum, if Xanana was a weak leader he probably would have said postpone there are no security condition.  He decided to postpone, no referendum, will never happen.

“So I say, Xanana is a real the architecture of our independence. He is the real father of the country. He has to behave as a grandfather, as a father and a leader”.

Alkairi or Lú – Olo or anyone offend him, upset him, he is bigger and he should invite them for dialogue.

“But I know maun boot Xanana will invite them for dialogue because he doesn’t hate people. He get upset today than he . . . but he is very sensitive, upset because of the blocking or the swearing in of some government ministries”.  

But maybe the president and Mr Xanana and the Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak, they three can sit together and find a compromise and restructure the government. CNRT is right, they are the largest party in the government, and they should have more members.

The AMP high-level conference consisting of three political parties, the CNRT party, PLP and KHUNTO has decided and issued a resolution not to extend the Mari Alkariti position at Oe-Kusi Ambeno because there are many suspected corruption cases.

The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste recognizes the special status of Oe-Cusse, an enclave in the north west of the island of Timor, stating that it “shall enjoy special administrative and economic treatment” and “be governed by a special administrative policy and economic regime.” 

In June last year Law No 3/2014 was passed creating the Special Administrative Region of Oe-Cusse Ambeno and establishing the Special Zone of Social Market Economy also known as ZEESM. Oe-Cusse Ambeno has faced significant development challenges compounded because of its isolation from contiguous Timor-Leste. The law notes the objective of the Special Administrative Region is to achieve “inclusive development of the region prioritizing activities of a socio economic nature to promote the quality of life and well-being of the community.”

Former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, President of the Authority of the Special Administrative Region of Oe-Cusse Ambeno and Chair of the Special Zone of Social Market Economy of Oe-Cusse Ambeno and Ataúro, notes that the Authority will use an “integrated approach to sustainable, social and economic development” accomplished by “investing in the training, education and health of the people of Oe-Cusse Ambeno while simultaneously investing in vital infrastructure, such as roads, bridges, school and more to help build a dynamic regional economy.”

The 2015 Budget allocates $81.9 Million to the Authority to invest to accelerate inclusive economic development and develop basic infrastructure. The Region will be using its status as a Special Economic Zone to attract quality foreign investment and long-term business initiatives.

A version of this article appears in Tempo Timor Online on June 25, 2019 with the headline: Rivalries between Xanana and Alkatiri not yet finished.

To joining ASEAN Timor – Leste don’t blame other countries, says Horta

By Raimundos Oki
Dili, East Timor – Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos Horta says that Timor-Leste must not blame other countries for entering ASEAN because Timor-Leste has not been well prepared so far.

Horta considered that, more than ten years the Timor-Leste government failed to prepare itself to become a member of ASEAN, because it had not prepared the basic conditions for handling the ASEAN meeting. Therefore, he suggested not to blame other countries for slowing down and rejecting Timor-Leste's membership in ASEAN but this was a mistake and a weakness of Timor-Leste itself.

“We cannot only blame or campaign to some ASEAN countries or let say Singapore delaying our membership because they look at us some of the countries and they ask is Timor – Leste ready really to accept the responsibilities as member of ASEAN,” Horta said to Tempo Timor in his residents, Metiaut, Dili last week.  

“Changing our laws, regulations, procedures to be consistent to other ASEAN countries in term of imigrations, customs, security, money laundry, financing and all of that. Have we done that? Do we have the infrastructure facilities to host ASEAN meetings, we don’t have”.    

“We cannot aspire and demand to be member of ASEAN when we don’t even have an international standard airport because most of the foreign leaders coming to Timor – Leste, they come in their own planes. And most of those planes they cannot land in Dili because of the airport is very short and it doesn’t yet meet international safety standards. So it’s failure on our side”.

He asks to the current government must build an international airport because it is one of a condition to joining ASEAN.

To answer the question why more than ten years Timor – Leste’s government depending on the Indonesian air company, Horta said maybe some people in the government over many years doing “big business” with Sriwijaya, and particularly with Citilink because we don’t have one single Timorese travel agency. No Timorese travel agency. Every travel agency in Dili is belonging to foreigners because we are not certifying yet under international rules and regulations to issued tickets.

Meanwhile, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dionísio Babo Saores has stated that, Timor – Leste has fulfilled most of the requirements, including opening embassies in all ASEAN countries.

“Although the gap between Timor – Leste and the richer nations is wide, ASEAN must demonstrate better goodwill to a country that clearly qualifies to be a member,” he said.

ASEAN was established on 8 August 1967 in Bangkok by the five original member countries: Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand. Brunei Darussalam joined on 8 January 1984, Vietnam on 28 July 1995, Laos and Myanmar on 23 July 1997, and Cambodia on 30 April 1999.

Timor – Leste officially applied for membership in ASEAN on 4 March 2011. However, after the ASEAN summit in April 2013, Secretary General of ASEAN Le Luong Minh stated that all member states now supported Timor-Leste's admission to the Association. Minh also stated "Timor Leste is not yet ready to join ASEAN.

A version of this article appears in Tempo Timor Online on June 29, 2019 with the headline: To joining ASEAN Timor – Leste don’t blame other countries, says Horta.

Horta accused the Garuda company killing East Timor economy

By Raimundos Oki
DILI – It only takes one hour and forty minutes to fly by plane from Denpasar to the capital city of the country of Timor Leste or East Timor, Dili.

This eastern country where the sun rises had been part of Indonesia 19 years ago. Until finally history ushered this country into a referendum on August 30, 1999, with the results of 344,580 people decided to free themselves from Indonesia.

The country has only operated one airport since independence, so the only gateway for air travel to Dili is Nicolau Lobato International Airport.

Actually, this airport is far from being an international impression. Imagine, the airport runway only reaches 1,800 km.

There are not many routes available at the airport. There are only three international routes so far, namely Denpasar-Dili, Dili-Singapore and Dili-Darwin, and more recently is Dili – Kupang. But the Silk Air had stopped last year because of the political impasse and the route from Dili – Singapore is unavailable.

Meanwhile, almost half of the flights there are run by Air Timor. A scheduled charter airline that has been operating in Timor Leste since 2008.

In its operations, the airline has no aircraft at all. What Air Timor has done so far is to survive by partnering with Citilink.

In August 2014, Air Timor signed a partnership with Garuda Indonesia to serve the Denpasar-Dili route starting October of the same year. The signing was carried out by both parties, in the presence of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Timor-Leste Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

Under the agreement, flights with Garuda Indonesia included in the full service service category will include 12 business class seats and 84 economy class seats.
However, on its way, Air Timor decided to divert cooperation with Garuda Indonesia to Citilink Indonesia, which was still standing in a group with the red plate airline bearing the bird. It is not known what are the detailed reasons why there is a transition between the loan agreement and the aircraft. Until finally, on June 5, 2015, Citilink and Air Timor signed an agreement to provide aircraft.

It was only on September 13, 2015 that Air Timor took Citilink officially to fly from Denpasar to Dili.

Former East Timorese president José Ramos Horta asked members of the government and parliament not to be overly dependent on Indonesia, because almost a dozen years the Garuda Indonesia company had killed the economy of Timor-Leste.

Horta stated this because so far the Garuda Indonesia company has been conducting a commercial flight between Dili - Bali where ticket prices are very expensive in the world. Therefore, he asked the current government to be able to find good solutions and alternatives with other companies from other countries.

“We have seen an experience with Garuda. For me, Garuda has committed a major crime against the economy of Timor-Leste. Timor must see and measure all this, why, because Garuda always raises ticket prices, because it wants to kill tourists to Timor, wants to kill the economy of Timor-Leste,” said Horta as reported by Tempo Timor last week in Dili.

“So we want good relations with Indonesia but we also have to see and stand one foot behind, not all, all members of the government, all members of parliament go to Indonesia, go to waste money in Surabaya and Bali”.

The average price for direct flights from Dili to Bali is $588 per person. And from Dili to Darwin is $538. But the current promotion price return flight Dili – Bali is $440 for Jully 2019.    

With the ticket prices being very expensive, the number of visitors to Timor-Leste is also greatly reduced. Data from the Tourist Information Center in the Ministry of Tourism, Commerce and Industry that throughout 2018, around 400 tourists visited Dili and between January and May 2019, there were only 50 tourists visiting Dili.

On 24 May 2019, Horta brought the president of the Air Timor Company Francisco Oliveira as the person in charge of the China Air Company to meet with the prime minister Taur Matan Ruak to talk about what China Air could do in Timor-Leste.

"I accompanied Air Timor's management to meet with the prime minister, I did not participate in commercial relations with them but felt worried about our difficulties regarding the very expensive ticket prices".

Seeing how to solve this problem because Silk Air (Singapore) has stopped and we are 100% dependent on airlines that lack of credibility such as Citilink and Sriwijaya.

If this country has sovereignty, according to Horta must find a solution so that Air Timor can cooperate with China Air.

“New plane, Air Timor has entered into an agreement with China Air and is now awaiting authorization from the government so that this plan can fly from Dili - Bali, Hong Kong Darwin, and Perth - Singapore".

On June 10, 2019, Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak stated that he had agreed to China Air's request to invest in Timor-Leste.

"I am authorized, as I have said that relations with other countries must be compatible but the government supports this initiative."

On June 14, 2019, the TransNusa vessel has flown Kupang Dili.

According to the existing schedule, this flight will be carried out twice a week, Monday and Friday.

East Timor's chief of civil aviation Ana Rosalia Ximenes Varela, stated that so far Timor-Leste had many difficulties regarding the price of airline tickets. This difficulty occurs because the Citilink and Srijiwijaya companies sell very expensive ticket prices from Dili – Denpasar, and Denpasar – Dili with the origin of the two companies that belong to the Garuda Company.

The ticket price for TransNusa Dili - Kupang ranges from US $ 30 - US $ 80 per person.

"Another problem in April 2019 is the Dili - Singapore, Singapore - Dili route which was closed because the company's financial capabilities were not enough," she explained.

To solve this problem, according to Varela, the government has signed several Air Service Management MoUs with other companies to invest in Timor-Leste. The government has signed the ASA with the Philippines and Malaysia.

A version of this article appears in Tempo Timor Online on June 29, 2019 with the headline: Horta accused the Garuda company killing East Timor economy.

The ASEAN countries must abolish the death penalty

  DILI –  Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos Horta is arguing ASEAN countries to remove the use of the death penalty from...